There had to be a reason it was put on the keyboard in the first place, right?
I can’t answer the OP, but I will add that Paul Allen (of Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Seahawks, and the EMP fame) takes credit for requiring a \ in DOS path names.
I think that the only reason it is one the keyboard is to use in path names. DOS’s use of backslashes instead of forward slashes started from the very inception of DOS. Along with making path names case insensitive, they were part of the early ideas to differentiate it from Unix and claim to be more user friendly.
Of course, you couldn’t do things like //////\ or /////\\\ (I know SpiderWoman couldn’t live without them).
Well, it’s also used for QuickWords in WordPerfect…
IIRC, DOS originally did not have hierarchical directories. Forward slash was used for options on commands, similar to dashes in Unix. Later, when hierarchical directories were added, the forward slash was already used.
It is still annoying however.
(or something like that)
Spider Woman wouldn’t be the same without it.
The backslash is also used as a “not” character in a few places. REXX, for example, may be ported between ASCII and EBCDIC platforms. While EBCDIC had a “not” character for use in COBOL and a few other applications (it appears as a hyphen with a short, downward tail on the right side and its keystroke was SHIFT+6, where the carat is on ASCII keyboards), that character does not appear in ASCII, so the backslash was included in the REXX character set.
Integer division in BASIC, ie: 9\2=4 (the remainder is discarded)
A backslash is used in the C language for escaping certain characters in string and character literals.
also in PERL, in Regular Expressions, and in UNIX Shells.
____ ____ ____ __ __ ____ ____ ______ / |\ / __/|/ _ ' / /|/ /| / |\| \\/_ __/| / | | | |--\/ //\// / / / / / | | | D |\_/ /|_|/ / -- | |\--/ || \\_ / / / / / / -- | | - // / / / /__//|_| |/___//\___//_/ /_/ / /__//|_| |_|\_\\/_/ / \__\|\__\|\___/ \__/\_\/\_\/ \__\|\__\|\_\\_\\_\/
which I’ll admit, I suck at.
Backslashes are often used to delimit comments in computer code, for example
\ At the beginning of a line, or
* with an asterisk to form left and right delimiters *\